The football legends of Greece who on July 4, 2004, became the champions of Europe, gathered for a reunion on Tuesday at a restaurant under the Acropolis in Athens.
Most of the players of the “golden team” were present. They gathered to reminisce and celebrate their achievement of winning the Euro 2004, the primary European football competition, in one of the greatest shocks in the history of football.
Unfancied Greece, to the surprise of pretty much everybody, beat hosts Portugal 1-0 in the final.
A team expected to bow out in the group stages defeated three top-seeded teams en route to lifting the cup; the Greek fans quite rightly describe it as a magical summer.
And at the head of it all, as the arch-strategist plotting this most unlikely course to success, was coach Otto Rehhagel, a German guaranteed his place among the Gods of Greek sport forever.
Some of the other legends spotted at the reunion were goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis, defender Yannis Goumas, and midfielders Costas Katsouranis and Vassilis Tsiartas.
Euro 2004 Reunion: “Impossible is nothing”
“Impossible is Nothing,” Giorgos Karagounis, the captain of the legendary team, wrote on Facebook.
Throughout his career, Karagounis has always been one of the Greek national team’s most faithful servants. He was part of the teams that participated in the European Championships of 2004, 2008 and 2012, and also the World Cups of 2010 and 2014.
Most of the 2004 Greek squad “cashed in” their stunning performances of that summer in Portugal by joining big European clubs.
For example, Giourkas Seitaridis joined Porto after the tournament and had stints at Dinamo Moskva and Atlético Madrid.
Traianos Dellas, dubbed the “Colossus of Rhodes” by coach Otto Rehhagel, joined Roma, Thodoros Zagorakis’s career included spells in England and Italy, Kostas Katsouranis moved to Benfica in Portugal, Stelios Giannakopoulos played for Bolton Wanderers and Hull City in England.
Angelos Charisteas who had a nomadic existence post-Portugal, left Werder Bremen for Ajax and then spent time with Feyenoord, Nürnberg, Bayer Leverkusen.
Forward Zisis Vryzas played abroad with Perugia, Fiorentina, Celta Vigo and Torino.
The footballing triumph of 2004 sparked wild celebrations in Greece and the world. The Greek diaspora came together and celebrated through the night in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Fireworks lit up the night sky over Athens almost as soon as the final whistle sounded half a continent away in Lisbon, as flag-draped Athenians poured onto the streets of the capital, hailing the 1-0 victory over Portugal as the best possible augury for the Athens Olympics that followed in August 2004.